I mean, I’ll continue to hate Rush, as it’s one of the organizing principles of my life.* But I can’t hate Rush’s lead singer and bass player, Geddy Lee. The guy just seems too genuine. And he love, love, loves baseball.
This video is a few years old, but I hadn’t seen it. It’s about what the guys from Rush do to chill out in their free time. I didn’t watch the Alex and Neil portions of it. I mean, I assume Alex does something bland and unthreatening. I figure Neil is, like, writing a 3,000 page sci-fi epic about some vaguely threatening but possible utopian future run by aliens who use unconventional time signatures as a means of keeping the populace in a drone-like state of order. At least until some hero with the power of music at his side comes and frees them. While riding a griffon maybe? I dunno. I’ll work out the details later.
But Geddy is all about the baseball and collecting memorabilia and he seems like a guy I’d love to hang out with at a Jays game sometime. His portion of the video is here. If you watch it below, skip to the 2:50 mark.
*If you are at all curious about my Rush obsession, know that in my conception of life, they are heroes and I am a supervillain. It’s like a creation myth, really. It’s not even a Joker/Batman or Luthor/Superman thing, as I am sure Rush would not care about me or my existence for a millisecond even if they knew who I was. It’s more like I am Samuel L. Jackson in “Unbreakable” and they are Bruce Willis. It’s probably not even that significant. They are the whale and I am Ahab. And we all know how Ahab met his end.
You see, in the early-to-mid-80s, my older brother became obsessed with Rush. I don’t know why. Someone bought him the “Signals” LP around that time and he just went with it. He purchased every single Rush album to date (on cassette, natch) and listened to them constantly. I will admit, I found some of it catchy. I was but a pre-teen when that all began and one isn’t musically responsible at that age. I could make a mix of Rush songs that I have no trouble with and which I could, even to this day, listen to if I were in the proper mood. The first side of the “Moving Pictures” album is really good. I really dug their first, self-titled album a lot even though (a) Neil Peart wasn’t involved; and (b) even if, in hindsight, it was really just a second rate Zeppelin ripoff. Now that I think about it, actually, Peart not being involved with it, at least lyrically speaking, may make it Rush’s best album. It truly was, in ways all of their other output was not, music for the Working Man. But I digress.
As the 80s wore on, I became aware of more and more Rush fans. And how they did not interact with music in quite the same way other music fans — music fans like I am and like most people are — did. There was more of a scientific appreciation of it than visceral enjoyment. They would talk about the technical aspects of Rush’s performances and its virtuosity, not how the songs related to them and moved them personally. This is understandable, as it’s really hard to find a personal connection to something called “The Temples of Syrinx” Maybe that works for escapist literature, but rock and roll is supposed to be about cars and girls and heartbreak and emotion and stuff. I would later learn that this is a hallmark of all prog rock and its fans, but I didn’t know that then. Rush is probably the most accessible of the 70s prog-rockers, so its fans are the only ones who I saw.
But as time wore on, it moved beyond merely music that was cold and didn’t much connect to me and the fans who loved it. There are Rush fans — a certain segment of them anyway — who really, really have a hard time believing anyone doesn’t love Rush. Just as they’ve approached the music they love with some weird, overly-objective and quantifiable metrics (“check out this crazy time signature!”) they believe that one cannot, logically, not like Rush. Or maybe it’s not about like. Maybe it’s about confusing feelings for objective assessment. “I don’t care for Rush,” I may say. “But Neil Peart is the best technical drummer of all time!” they’d exclaim, as if that should settle the matter.
In college, I met much of the same arguments from a slightly different source. It was 1991 and we were moving quickly out of the hair metal era and into the era of grunge and indie music. I shared dorm rooms with guys who were still holding on to Winger and Bon Jovi and Warrant, however, and their defenses of that stuff were much the same as those you’d hear from Rush partisans. The fidelity of the production and the skill of the guitar solo, etc. Eventually, however, the hair band proponents abandoned that stance and either gave up on Winger entirely or else grounded their love for it in the much, much more defensible “hey, their music is about mindless fun and hedonism, so what?” I mean, say what you want about the tenets of “She’s my Cherry Pie,” Dude, but at least it’s an ethos.
To this day, Rush fans stand by their band on terms unchanged since 1978 (or since whenever their weird older brothers indoctrinated them, probably around the time of “Power Windows”). They will tell you, in objective terms, that you are mistaken for not thinking Rush is the best band in the world. And they don’t have much of a sense of humor about it. In 2004 I went to the Franklin County Common Pleas Clerk of Courts to file a pleading in a lawsuit I was working on. The clerk had at his desk an autographed picture of Neil Peart. I said something to the person I was with about it, the clerk heard me and gave me a very long and very hard time about it all, and even threatened — I think in jest, but I’m not sure — that he’d “lose” my pleading unless I told him I was sorry and I liked Rush. This is what I was reduced to: being bullied — successfully — by a Rush fan. It may have been the lowest moment of my adult life.
So, here I am. Ensconced in my fortified compound on the outskirts of town. Still believing that rock music should be about girls and cars. That, while grand concept albums are something, I’ve never heard anyone walking down the street humming an album. That, no matter how sour, demented bitter and sad it makes me — that even if it leads to my doom — I shall fight the scourge that is Rush and their misguided fans.
Towards thee I roll, thou all-destroying but unconquering prog rock band. To the last I grapple with thee; from hell’s heart I stab at thee; for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee.
Oh dear God, I need a drink.